LAVAL (November 2, 2018) – The Laval Rocket and the Utica Comets faced off for the first of two games this weekend at Place Bell on Friday night during the Hockey Fights Cancer game, in which the Rocket were defeated by their divisional rival by a score of 3-1.
The American Hockey League affiliate of the Vancouver Canucks were the first to get on the board as Guillaume Brisebois sprung Jonathan Dahlen on a breakaway in the final five minutes of the first period, on which he sent the puck just over Charlie Lindgren’s pad to make it 1-0 for the Comets. Though Utica had the period’s only goal, Joël Bouchard’s troops had their own chances to score as well— including a one-timer from Brett Kulak in the slot that was stopped by Ivan Kulbakov.
Two more goals from the visitors in the back half of the second period sent goaltender Michael McNiven into the game in relief of Lindgren, who stopped 15 of the 18 shots he faced. Although they were down the Rocket were not out, as they had two near-goals of their own immediately after Utica’s third goal. A shot from Laval that rang off the post and a breakaway that was stopped by Kulbakov kept the Comets ahead by three after 40 minutes of play.
“Every game I’m just waiting for my opportunity and I had one tonight,” said McNiven of getting into the game. “I feel like my job is to stop the bleeding and to give my team a chance to come back and I feel that I did that tonight.”
A powerplay goal from Kulak early in the third reduced Laval’s deficit to two, as he avenged his stopped one-timer from the first period with another one-timer that snuck by Utica’s screened goaltender. Though they outshot their opponent 15-3 in the final twenty minutes, the Rocket were unable to come from behind to tie the game.
“Tomorrow’s a new day [against] the same team, so we know what they’re going to bring,” explained McNiven after the game. “We just have to bring it more.”
LAV: Kulak (Belzile, Fleury)
UTI: Dahlen (Brisebois, McEneny) | MacEwen (Sifers, Juolevi) | Carcone (Kero)
LAV: Lindgren (15/18) | McNiven (8/8) | UTI: Kulbakov (31/32)
Rocket Powerplay: 1/3|Rocket Penalty Kill: 3/3
Three Stars: 1. Jonathan Dahlen – UTI | 2. Guillaume Brisebois –UTI | 3. Cale Fleury – LAV